Both the poet Emily Dickinson and the artist Vincent van Gogh wrestled with mental illness in their adult lives. There are indications that both suffered from major depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. Both lived in a time when there was no real understanding of mental illness and there was no language through which people could interpret and explain their pain. Dickinson used her poetry to create metaphors, metaphors centered around death and winter. Van Gogh created nature metaphors – and some centered around dying like Dickinson’s – in his paintings and in letters to his brother. These metaphors acted as a lens through which they could cope with their mental illnesses.
Moss, Samantha, "Metaphors of Mental Illness: How Emily Dickinson and Vincent van Gogh Understood and Expressed Their Personal Battles with Depression" (2020). English Department: Student Scholarship. 6.